It might be hard to believe but bank notes in Tanzania are used not just as a medium of exchange, but hard narcotic drugs enhancer said to shoot addicts really high. Currency officials had no idea when they incorporated a silvery vertical stripe as a security feature to the countrys bank notes that they were also circulating freely a narcotic drugs stengthener. Officials are baffled but addicts have for the last two years been scratching off the shiny substance to mix with other drugs such as heroin for a more punchy concoction. Most targeted has been the Sh1,000 banknote because it is more easily available. The scratch is not hard to notice, although it could also be taken as part of the general dilapidation, thanks to the acknowldged ragile quality of Tanzanias banknotes. An addict said that they learnt about the substances catalytic properties when mixed with other drugs from their South African friends. South Africa is southern Africas drug capital and the countrys relative development is spilling over rather negatively to the rest of the region. Hard drugs such as heroin are now very expensive, but you only need a very small amount of heroin mixed with the silvery material scraped off currency notes to get really high?the effect is truly mindblowing, my friend, said the addict, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals. He said the Sh1,000 was the one most favoured by addicts because it is the easiest to find. The powder from one note was enough to keep one high for several hours, he added. Several other addicts in Ilala, Kariakoo, Magomeni and Kinondoni confirmed that powder from security bands on notes was in high demand among drug users in the areas. The Bank of Tanzania governor, Prof Benno Ndulu said BoT was aware of the problem, and was working with other government agencies to find a solution. Were aware of the issue! Weve been carrying out investigations to establish the extent of the problem. We're handling the issue carefully since it's a very sensitive matter, he said. He added that the bank did not want to say or do anything that will encourage people to damage currency notes. BoT, he said, would work with commercial banks to monitor mutilated currency notes so as to get an idea of the extent of the problem and how to take appropriate remedial action. However, Prof Ndulu refused to state the composition of the silver band, saying doing so could compromise security features on Tanzanian currency notes and make them more prone to forgery and further abuse. The commissioner of the Drug Control Commission, Mr Christopher Shekiondo was not aware of the problem But since you have informed us, I can promise you we are going to work with the Police Force to get to the bottom of this issue, he said. The director of criminal Investigation, Mr Robert Manumba, promised to work on the issue, saying drug abuse is still a major problem. Well work on it, he told. Prof Ndulu explained that this was not the first time that people had misused notes and coins issued by the bank. He was informed, he said, that brewers of local beer at one time boiled in the mash coins for Sh100 and Sh200 believing doing so would make their brews more potent! Recently, BoT issued new Sh2,000 notes on which the only visible changes, however, are the signatures of Finance and Economic Affairs minister Mustafa Mkulo and BoT governor, Prof Ndulu who replaced those of their predecessors, Mr Basil Mramba and Dr Daudi Ballali, respectively. Tanzanias bank notes are found in denominations of Sh500, Sh1,000, Sh2,000, Sh5,000 and Sh10,000. The country has essentially a cash economy and the notes are often folded roughly as a way of keeping the money safe and secure. I dont know what chemicals have been used to make the security band. But whatever it is, its really powerful, said an addict for whom money itself is now the new found drug! That bank notes are the new narcotic, adds yet another headache for the various state organs battling drug trafficking and abuse in Tanzania. Drugs are brought into thecountry by air, sea, road and rail owing to the extremely porous borders. Major entry points include airports in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro and seaports in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, as well as smaller ports like Tanga, Mtwara and Bagamoyo. The growth of the tourism industry, particularly in Zanzibar, has created a larger demand for narcotics on the island. Tanzania is located along trafficking routes with numerous possible illegal points of entry on borders with eight neighbours and an 850km coastline. For example, in 2005 police intercepted 375 tonnes of cannabis, 101.5 kilogrammes of heroin and 35 kilogrammes of other prohibited substances. Over the past two years, 11,500 people have been arrested on drugrelated charges, according to the antinarcotics unit. A report of the International Narcotics Control Strategy for 2007, mentions Tanzania as a drug trafficking route linking Latin America, the Middle East and far way United States. It is also a key link for drugs to South Africa and Europe.